If there is one telephone at my parents home that has been left in place since my father's demise, then its his VoIP telephone I purchased online - one of the very first products I ever bought online in 2004. The Dual phone by Olympia sat in a market with very few rivals at a time when Skype, the world's first online internet "telephone" chat system allowed international calls to be made through various computer headsets and microphones, giving the Olympia company an incentive to come up with a phone that could be used like a normal digital cordless landline telephone with the added benefit of being used via your PC and Skype software - or any company infact that your phone could use - via its USB cable. This function appealed to all my family members instead of sitting in front of a computer constantly wired into a mono headset.
The RTX Olympia DUALphone has many different models but it is the original 3045 model to which the photo on Dooyoo refers to - and is the same one I own. It is currently priced on Amazon.co.uk at £40 although ours cost a bit more than that at £60 back in 2004. Since being connected to a PC for most of its life, the good news is that the Olympia Dual phone comes with a CD Rom software disk to get you started but it isn't exactly essential to load the actual software in since its USB cord has a plug and play type facility that just hooks onto your computer and enables itself whenever you login into Skype. Thus it does not need a driver for it to work on PC computer systems. The basic requirements work on Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X even though this phone is ages old, the only update you'll need to do is whenever Skype updates itself and the phone will just hook onto the system regardless of Skype versions. The required space on a PC for example is 15MB and of course a valid internet connection.
As a home phone the RTX Olympia DUALphone is a good idea even though it may look slightly old fashioned, it was one of the original phones to contain the same DECT digital clarity and speech on the phone is therefore very clear with good clarity when also listening. The phone's main fascia is made up of rubber keys that don't always function fast enough but this is only a minor trait if you're in a hurry. The battery pack is a rechargeable Ni-MH type that will need at least 8 to 16 hours charging the first time the phone is switched on, but thereafter after an hour of use, the phone only needs to be rested on the charger base for a couple of hours for the battery to regain full strength. When we had it new the battery life was a different story - the phone battery could last up to six hours of talk time before needing to be charged against the usual three hours now before needing charged - and in this respect I've already ordered a battery replacement to keep this phone going. (Battery number GP70AAAH3BMX with an average price of £5-99, easy to replace and looks like three taped AAA batteries with a microchip and small dual wire cord). Battery life can change depending on the type of calls you make on this phone. When the phone is used to make international calls or SKYPE function, the battery life is good and quite strong. When used to make landline national calls, the battery life starts to lessen whilst local calls seem to reiterate the same kind of strength as the phone relays when used online. There is a standby time of 100 hours.
Most of the functions on the phone are quite easy to understand and there is a well explained user booklet that comes with the phone as well as two different fascia colours that you can additionally add to the phone's frontage if you don't like silver on black. A light green backlit LCD panel on the main handset shows off the usual kinds of information such as the number dialed, numbers in memory through its 160 total number phone book and 30 extra numbers on redial and you can also check 30 numbers saved on the call log feature built into the phone. The LCD screen also shows the signal of Skype and the signal of the battery life on the phone. Included with the phone is a clip on stand that slides and locks onto the base station with a small hole for the phone cord with the USB plug on the end and small microchip to slide in and underneath before it locks into the base station whilst another point at the charger base allows for the mains adaptor to lock in. Once this is done, two cables will come out of the base of the charger station and the charger itself has a paging facility if the cordless phone gets lost. A red LED light stays on continually to show the charger station is on whilst the handset itself has a handy shirt clip on the back of the phone that can be slid into a pocket or likewise shirt if the phone is mobile and away from the charger home station. A mono headphone socket is also flush fitted to the left hand side of the phone as this phone doesn't have a loud speaker option and thus allows for a microphone to be used optionally instead.
Now, in use as a cordless landline phone, the Olympia DUALphone isn't bad at what it is supposed to do. The rubber keys are quite soft to the touch and they have the standardized alphabetical letters on each of the numbers. There are two sets of start call buttons and both are well labeled so that you know exactly what to do without really referring to the user manual. Although using the same kinds of green and red colours to differentiate each setting, the keys for the Skype/VoIP function have the letters "PC" sitting on an outside border so that there is no way you'll be confused as to which button to push when receiving a call or hanging up/once a call has ended. In the middle there is a mobile phone like scroll key that either goes up or down with last number redial or goes straight to the menu address book whilst offering two other settings when pushed left or right. Putting a number into the phone is very easy and like many cordless phones of the period it isn't difficult to fathom out how to use the features on this phone if using it purely for landline calls. One of the better aspects I like is the fact that the phone can be used 300 metres outdoors and the key pad can either be selected to have its tones taken off when pushing individual numbers or in silence. Clarity of the actual LCD screen isn't too bad for the age of this phone even though it is light grey LCD numericals on the green screen with 2 lines of display. The light can be adjusted on the phone, which is another added benefit of seeing what you're actually doing!
In Skype mode, the phone will hook on automatically to your Skype account once you have logged in - but only if the phone's USB cord is connected to your PC. The cord is quite long and travels well from the base for this to occur. Instead of relying on looking up the computer to see who is online, the DUALphone tells you exactly who is online and who isn't online in the LCD screen on the handset. This is such a handy feature to have even though in reality you still need to connect the USB to the computer to actually speak to someone - but still you can take the handset away to call someone internationally through Skype when sitting in the garden for example.
If there is one aspect I do like about the DUALphone it is the fact that it can detect both calls at the same time. This has happened to me on many an occasion when I've forgotten to logout of Skype and a call has come through on the landline telephones. In this respect a quick look back to the LCD screen will confirm whether it is a call from your computer/SKYPE account or a normal call! If you don't you can always tell by the ringer because the DUALphone has two distinctive types of audible alert distinguishing between a landline call and an online call. I can't tell you the amount of times I've had to put people on hold to accept an international call and it can be quite unusual when such an event arises! This phone has a call waiting feature and it is very handy to have!
If there are any downsides to this phone then it's the fact that it has rather dated ring tones. There are only five tones and for the most part all of the ring tones are unfortunately monophonic and quite slow if you choose the musical ones over the standard digital ringers. If you can put up with that and its varied, but short menu of ring tones available, the DUALphone is quite a reliable and compact phone by itself. It also has a slightly limited option list of being able to be put in a series of European languages. Being Scandinavian in design, it can be put in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish. In terms of alerts a series of three beeps warns you that the phone battery is loosing life and the same series of beeps in a higher tone warns you that one of your contacts (when connected online) has either logged out or is online. The key pad has selectable tones or clicks if you love the idea of this and the click sound isn't that far off from my more modern iPod Classic click sound.
Another downside (but one my parents quite like) is the fact that the DUALphone is quite light. Despite the rubberized keys, I've dropped this phone a couple of times because of its slippery silver painted sides and as a result our phone hasn't stood up well to scratches. It isn't the kind of phone that you can rely on for having a grippy texture and in this respect this is a reason to why I take advantage of the handy clip on the back end of the phone so that it never slips from my hands when I'm mobile with it.
All in all I completely recommend the Olympia DUALphone. It isn't the most technological looking cordless telephone but it was one of the first combination cordless phones on the market able to relieve those who use Skype with the ability to go almost anywhere with the phone instead of being tied to a computer. Granted, it may look a bit old fashioned but on the basis that it can accept both systems of landline and online telecommunications at the same time, it really is a well thought out phone but should never be treated as the only home telephone since its battery life could be improved upon. The build quality and slow key pad are other points that let it down, but since it has lasted six years on its original battery, I'm hoping its replacement battery will allow this phone to keep working. No wonder it has won numerous awards! Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2010
Easy to understand user manual: http://dualphone.net/files/getfiles/60.pdf